1994 Winter Olympics


Competition type Olympic Games
Number and Year XVII / 1994
Host city Lillehammer, Norway (Venues)
Opening ceremony 12 February
Closing ceremony 27 February
Competition dates 12 – 27 February
OCOG Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee
Participants 1738 from 67 countries
Medal events 61 in 12 disciplines


Before the Lillehammer Olympics began, they were haunted by tragedy and controversy. There was the Nancy Kerrigan-Tonya Harding story, in which Harding’s bodyguard and ex-husband admitted to attacking Kerrigan prior to the U.S. Olympic Trials, a story which was ubiquitous in the U.S. press and television. Two weeks before the Olympics, skiing medal favorite Ulrike Maier of Austria was killed when she fell and broke her neck in a downhill race. U.S. ice dancer Elizabeth Punsalan’s father was savagely stabbed to death one week before the Olympics; allegedly by his son, Elizabeth’s brother. For the Norwegians, they were stunned in October 1993 when their greatest sporting hero, Vegard Ulvang, tragically lost his brother Kjetil, who died in the Arctic wilderness while skiing. They also had to deal with the death of the Norwegian ski coach in December 1993. Finally, only days before the Games, Ole Gunnar Fidjestøl, the Norwegian ski jumper who was to ski jump the torch into the stadium at the opening ceremonies, crashed during a practice jump, sustaining a concussion. He had to be replaced by his understudy, Stein Gruben. Lillehammer seemed to be cursed.

And tragically, Lillehammer was haunted by the recent news from its sister Olympic Winter city of a decade ago, Sarajevo. Sarajevo, which had hosted a beautiful Olympic Winter Games in 1984, now lay in ruins, its stadia and people destroyed by a senseless war in which the Serbs attempted an “ethnic cleansing” on Bosnia-Herzegovina, killing many of their former Muslim brethren.

Stein Gruben performed beautifully at the Opening Ceremony, as did all of Norway. The Ceremonies began a mystical two weeks which ended all thoughts of the tragedy and controversy which had preceded them, and reminded us again of what the Olympics and sport can bring to the world. The Olympic Winter Games had gone from the ridiculous to the sublime.

There were many great athletic feats at the Lillehammer Games. Manuela Di Centa won five medals in cross-country skiing. Norway’s Johann Olav Koss won three speed skating gold medals in world record time. Dan Jansen won the hearts of sports fans everywhere when he finally won a gold medal in the 1,000 metre speed skating. But through it all, the champions seemed to be the small town of Lillehammer and the people of Norway itself.

There were also many poignant memories of Sarajevo. Katarina Witt skated her long program to “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” in memory of the citizens who had lost their lives in that senseless war. On the next-to-last night, at the figure skating exhibition, Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean skated “Bolero” as they had done so hauntingly in 1984. Koss donated a major portion of his Olympic bonus (about $33,000) to Olympic Aid for the citizens of Sarajevo. And during the Lillehammer Olympics, President Samaranch visited Sarajevo, seeing in person the stark contrast between the Olympic City and the Sarajevo of 1994. At the Closing Ceremony, Samaranch also spoke movingly about Sarajevo.

In summing up the Lillehammer Olympics, Leigh Montville of Sports Illustrated said it best, “The XVII Winter Olympics did not exist. Norway did not exist. These were the fairy-tale Games, drawn from the imagination, staged in the pages of a children’s book. They could not exist. Reality cannot be this good.”

Bid process

Bid voting at the 94th IOC Session in Seoul on 15 September 1988.

Round 1 Round 2 Round 3
Lillehammer Norway 25 30 45
Östersund Sweden 19 33 39
Anchorage, Alaska United States 23 22
Sofia Bulgaria 17


Officially opened by Kronprins HaraldNORSALKing
Torchbearer Haakon, Kronprins av NorgeNORLit flame
Stein GrubenNORSki jumper
Cathrine NøttingnesNORTorch bearer within stadium
Taker of the Athlete's Oath Vegard UlvangNORCCS
Taker of the Official's Oath Kari KåringNORSSK
Olympic Flag Bearer Birger RuudNORALP/SJPBearer
Hjalmar AndersenNORSSKBearer
Stein EriksenNORALPBearer
Hallgeir BrendenNORCCSBearer
Bjørg Eva JensenNORSSKBearer
Linda AndersenNORSALBearer
Heidi SundalNORHBLBearer
Grete Andersen-WaitzNORATHBearer
Magnar SolbergNORBTHBearer (Closing)
Knut JohannesenNORSSKBearer (Closing)
Peder Lunde, Jr.NORSALBearer (Closing)
Jon RønningenNORWREBearer (Closing)
Berit Kvello-AunliNORCCSBearer (Closing)
Brit PettersenNORCCSBearer (Closing)
Ingrid HadlerNORBearer (Closing)
Birthe HegstadNORBearer (Closing)
Flagbearers Full list

Medal Disciplines

Alpine Skiing Figure Skating Nordic Combined
Biathlon Freestyle Skiing Short Track Speed Skating
Bobsleigh Ice Hockey Ski Jumping
Cross Country Skiing Luge Speed Skating

Medal table

NOC Gold Silver Bronze Total
Russian Federation RUS 11 8 4 23
Norway NOR 10 11 5 26
Germany GER 9 7 8 24
Italy ITA 7 5 8 20
United States USA 6 5 2 13
Republic of Korea KOR 4 1 1 6
Canada CAN 3 6 4 13
Switzerland SUI 3 4 2 9
Austria AUT 2 3 4 9
Sweden SWE 2 1 0 3
Japan JPN 1 2 2 5
Kazakhstan KAZ 1 2 0 3
Ukraine UKR 1 0 1 2
Uzbekistan UZB 1 0 0 1
Belarus BLR 0 2 0 2
Finland FIN 0 1 5 6
France FRA 0 1 4 5
Netherlands NED 0 1 3 4
People's Republic of China CHN 0 1 2 3
Slovenia SLO 0 0 3 3
Great Britain GBR 0 0 2 2
Australia AUS 0 0 1 1

Most successful competitors

Athlete Nat Gold Silver Bronze Total
Lyubov Yegorova RUS
3 1 0 4
Johann Olav Koss NOR 3 0 0 3
Manuela Di Centa ITA 2 2 1 5
Bjørn Dæhlie NOR 2 2 0 4
Myriam Bédard CAN 2 0 0 2
Bonnie Blair USA 2 0 0 2
Jeon I-Gyeong KOR 2 0 0 2
Markus Wasmeier GER
2 0 0 2
Jens Weißflog GDR
2 0 0 2
Vladimir Smirnov KAZ
1 2 0 3

All medalists at these Games